News Brief: The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency today launched a robotic cargo ship to the International Space Station, filled with more than five tons of supplies, equipment and experiments. Liftoff of Japan’s H-IIB rocket from the Tanegashima Space Center came at 2:52 a.m. JST Sept. 23 (10:52 a.m. PT Sept. 22). Minutes later, the HTV-7 cargo carrier (also known as Kounotori-7) separated from the rocket, heading for a Thursday rendezvous with the space station. Among the cylindrical craft’s payloads are new hardware to upgrade the station’s electrical power system, an experiment to study protein crystal growth at low temperatures, a life-sciences glovebox and an experimental sample return capsule.
Update for 1:30 p.m. PT Sept. 28: As expected, the HTV-7 cargo ship was grappled by the space station’s robotic arm and successfully hooked up to a port on the station’s Harmony module at 10:09 a.m. ET (7:09 a.m. PT) Sept. 27. Over the next few weeks, the station’s crew will unload the cargo and reload the craft with trash for disposal.